Friday, June 22, 2018

From antiquity to today : Slip-ons are here to stay

The popularity of slip-on shoes and subsequent cross-over into high fashion corresponds to the incidence of terrorism in the West. Travelling fashionista prefer not to be held up at security points devesting themselves of cumbersome footwear and slip on styles maintain a casual nonchalance which allowed the fashionable slip-on revolution to begin. Several of the oldest known shoe styles was rediscovered in the latter part of the 20th century from clogs, sheepskin slippers to sandals all heavily promoted by popular daytime television.

(Video Courtesy: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon Youtube Channel)
In 1966, German-American designer Margot Fraser, discovered Birkenstocks on a trip to Germany and took them back to San Francisco. They were initially slow merchandise to move but once the hippies discovered them, everything changed. Birkenstocks have been made since 1774, and an evergreen in Europe.

The sandals have remained “cyclically fashionable” throughout the latter half of the 20th century but reappeared in 2012, when Phoebe Philo, then the creative director of Céline, resurrected the slides as fashion icons on the catwalk.

One other European Granny sandal to cross the fashion divide was the Worishofer sandal, Once considered the orthpaedic shoe of choice for the discerning stiffy, when reference was made to hiw comfortable they were on an influential shopping magazine in the US, they were soon spotted on the feet of celebrity icons like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams . By 2010, the Worishofer sandal had become the sandal of choice for Blue Rinse fashionista.

(Video Courtesy: crocs Youtube Channel)

FIFA World Cup Russia 2018: Nike gives adidas the boot

Nike was established in 1964 and began its forage into the football (soocer) market in 1971 with the release of ""The Nike" football boot, the first shoe to bear the Swoosh logo. The boots proved unpopular so it was back to the drawing board.

Nike, started to get seriously involved in soccer when the World Cup was played in the United States in 1994, within two decades the American company has the majority market share. Despite this soccer represents less than 10% of Nike’s overall sales.

Nike primary objective, unlike their main rival adidas, is to sell football boots, and have for years ambushed the World Cup and other Football tournaments by sponsoring the top players with boot deals, many of which play for team sponsored by adidas. This “nuisance” strategy has proven success and now sixty per cent (60% ) of all players at the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia will be wearing Nike boots, with almost half the German and Spanish team and three-quarters of the Russians singed to a boot deal. Nike sponsor more of the world’s best-known soccer stars than Adidas in its battle to maintain supremacy over its German rivals.

According to CIES Football Observatory, 132 of the 200 most expensive players at the World Cup, wear Nike boots. Adidas have 59. By far Nike’s ace signing has been Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, for not only is he one of the greatest players on the planet, he also has an enormous presence on social media. It is this above all which helps the company sell shoes. Boot sales escalate after the tournament when school children and young adults buy them.

Nike outfit 10 teams at the 2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia. These are: Australia, Brazil ($36M), Croatia, England ($40M), France ($50M), Nigeria, Poland, Portugal , Saudi Arabia, and South Korea .

Another form of promotion, called ‘guerrilla marketing,’ involves players slipping in a promotion for their personal sponsor. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (then Borussia Dortmund, now Arsenal ), dyed a red Nike swoosh into his hair while his team played in Puma sponsored kits. Puma is a Dortmund shareholder and provides the team's kits.

The player was back at it again when he celebrated his opener for Borussia Dortmund against Schalke, as he wheeled away to celebrate he grabbed a superhero mask and pulled it over his head. This issomething he has done quite frequently but on this occasion the Aubameyang’s celebration was part of a promotional campaign for the Nike Hypervenom. The player earns a reported 2 million euros a year from Nike and receives extra payments if he mentions the company on social media.

(Video Courtesy: Fox Soccer Youtube Channel)

World Cup Telstar 18: The baw's burst

Inspite of all the scientitic testing and ‘bla ‘ from adidas about their new Telstar 18, being tough and durable, it burst during the game between France and Australia. A strong tackle on Lucas Hernandez (France) by Trent Sainsbury (Australia)sandwiched the ball and it burst. Then in the 34th minute, Ousmane Dembele (FRance) prepared to take a corner but was delayed when he checked the ball and found it had burst.

On the same day in a different stadium, during the Argentina vs Iceland match, Lionel Messi was forced to change balls after being unhappy with its state early in the first half. It remains unclear why competition balls are bursting during matches.

Foot Facelift : Cosmetic Foot Surgery

When you stop to think about it, people are strange (cue Jim Morrison and The Doors). The length some of us go to be in fashion is quite remarkable. I said length, but should have said short, because I understand many ladies have been arriving at their friendly cosmetic surgeon to have their toes shortened. Yes, the little pinkies are amputated. For no medical reason but just to be able to fit more comfortably in the lean slick fashionable shoes which are enjoying a new vogue.

Now the idea of a foot facelift is not new and it appears a prominent member of the Royal Family (UK) of yesteryear had his, yes ‘His’, little toes amputated to fit more comfortably into the trim brogues he made so popular in the thirties. By coincidence we are currently enjoying a Renaissance of the glamour period.

According to the late William Rossi in his toe curlingly, funny book on the Sexlife of the Foot and Shoe (Kreiger Press) in fifteenth century Spain, the fashion for broad toe shoes (Bear’s Paw) that measured 12 inches across the ball of the foot with individual compartments for each toe came about because the prince regent was born with polydactilism (six toes). Absence of antibiotics and a high morbidity rates, post-surgery meant the prince was allowed to keep his extra toes and the shoe fashions were changed to accommodate extra width.

The “podiatrist’s delight” did last two centuries and certainly replaced the fashion for long toed shoes (poulaines) but it is unlikely one event at that time would have set the change in foot sartoria across all of Europe. According to contemporary writing and painting the change in fashion took place almost instantly. Communications were poor by modern standards and fashions would in the Middle Ages take decades to pass from one court to another. One tangible explanation is the change in shoe design was necessitated by the presence of disease. Syphilis was rife in the 15th century and a disease sequestrate was severe foot ulceration which would require shoes, like moon boots.

Is the popularity of toe cutting the symptom of a modern malaise? Apotemnophilia is a psychological disorder where the need for amputation of a limb or part thereof becomes an obsession. Today the disorder has a poor prognosis as counselling and pharmaceutical managements have little effect. The lifelong compulsion drives many people to seek amputation but when medical authorities refuse, the individuals will often undertake self-amputation, sometimes with tragic consequences. One cannot help but wonder if “the toe cutter phenomena” is not a fashion folly but a true indication of a popular neurosis.

Can we live without our little toes? Apparently so, indeed many amputees live perfectly fulfilling lives without any toes but this is not recommended if it can be possibly, avoided. Several years ago I did some preliminary research at the Bioengineering Unit at Strathclyde University in Scotland and was amazed to find out how much toes contributed to foot function during walking. The small toes have three little bones which give two knuckles and sometimes osteoarthritis (osteoarthrosis) fuses the knuckle joints and leaves a prominent “sticky up” portion. I am using technical terms now but the condition is usually called a hammer toe. Foot surgeons may remove the joint if it is the cause of extreme pain and or recurrent infection. Pain is usually the sole (excuse the terrible pun), criteria for orthopaedic intervention, or it has been until now.

Cosmetic foot surgery has changed all that in our modern primitive society and now we have the technology to do literally anything to our bodies and that is exactly what we appear to do. The dilemma caused by the bioethics of toe cutting has really challenged the moral codes of the medical profession and what was once frowned upon in orthodox circles is now being openly challenged by an informed public.

Reviewed 22/06/2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 FIFA World Cup TM Russia: adidas outstrip their rivals

Rudolf Dassler started the company when he and brother, Adi Dassler fell out in 1948. Puma has continued to rival adidas in soccer boot manufacture and supply. German Company, adidas, have enjoyed supremacy for decades in the soccer market but now face constant challenge from Nike. Together these companies control 89 percent of the soccer retail market.

Team deals are important for sales of football jerseys and adidas is the official sponsor of the FIFA World Cup TM 2018 tournament and will outfit 12 teams. The 32 nations competing in Russia are sponsored by eight different clothing brands. Fans will see kits from Adidas (Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Iran, Japan, Morocco, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Sweden,); Nike (Australia, Brazil, Croatia, Egypt, England, France, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea); Puma (Senegal, Serbia, Switzerland and Uruguay); New Balance (Panama and Costa Rica); Erreà (Iceland); Hummel (Denmark); Uhlsport (Tunisia) and Umbro (Peru). However, the German brand are not expecting large returns from a financially depressed host country. Sales of jerseys bring returns earlier because the World Cup outfits have already been sold to retailers and fans want to wear the jerseys of their favourite team. The sale of boots usually happens after the event when fans want to play shod, like their heroes.

adidas celebrate 20 years as an official partner of FIFA World Cup TM and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars for exclusive rights that include having its logo on match balls and referees’ uniforms. It is estimated adidas will spend between $96 million (£71.9m) and $176 million for 2018 FIFA World Cup TM. On average it cost the German Company annually, approximately $80M to be an official World Cup sponsor. That allows them to advertise within every stadium for every game. adidas have designed the official World Cup ball since 1970, and outfit all FIFA personnel, referees, ball boys, and volunteers. As an official event sponsor adidas has access to platforms and markets that their rivals do not. adidas also sees more engagement on social media. The content it produces for you tube draws a more committed following than Nike’s. This is important to distinguish because a loyal following will spend money on the brand, while a superficial one won’t.

Over the past five tournaments three World Cup winners have lifted the trophy donning the Adidas logo. The focus is no longer on broad-based sponsoring, but on the top teams and players. However, the cost of sponsorship is considerable i.e., Spain ($47M), Argentina ($11M), Russia ($15M) and Germany ($58M). Manufacturers regard sponsorships as key to boosting sales of shoes, jerseys and other equipment to consumers, with a market valued at almost $19 billion last year, more than double the level a decade ago. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup TM, adidas exceeded its own revenue projections and spent an estimated $67m on advertising, and the actual figure has never been disclosed.

A Brief History of Nail Art

As the fashion for metro-sexuality continues to be popular, men are attracted to nail cosmetics. Men and make up have a long history which dates back to antiquity. In ancient Egypt (5000- 3500BC) nail painting was an art form and often included gold and nail charms. The art of nail sculpture and decoration was also practiced in Africa, hundreds of years ago. The Hausa from southern Sahara were so proud of their painted nails they wore turned up sandals to protect them. Both men and women painted their toe nails. In Egyptian times henna was often used to colour the hair, skin and nails.

It took until the 19th century for the fashion of nail painting to return and much of this was due to the invention of the orange stick (for getting to the ungetatable places). Resurgence of interest in the classical brought almond shaped finger nails to the fore. Nails were often tinted red and highly polished. Just as Queen Victoria was taking to her thrown, nail painting again became an art form and there were several professional journals to cater for the new fad. New salons sprang up all over catering for all incomes. Tinted creams or powders were popular and the shiny look very vogue.

In 1907 the first emery board appeared and by 1917 the dangers of damaging the cuticle was recognized and a new nail polish patented. The first beauty therapy magazine featured in 1922 and the fashion was to apply a single strip of nail paint avoiding the lunula and free edge. Etiquette books of the time warned women against painting their nails "garish colours". The first perfumed nail varnish was introduced in 1929 but this was unpopular and quickly withdrawn.

By the early thirties Charles and Joseph Revson with Charles Lachman created an opaque, non-streaking nail polish based on pigments rather than dyes. This made a variety of colours available and Revlon introduced the fashion of matching lip and nail co-ordinates.

A new lease of life was given to toe nail painting when shoe designers discovered how to make high heeled shoes without toe caps. The Peekaboo styles were made famous in the thirties and forties by many of the Hollywood sirens including Rita Hayward. She becomes a celebrated actress who preferred to wear her finger and toe nails, long. Her red polish establishes the fashion and new colours followed after the Second World War. This was in no short measure due to the advances in industrial chemistry associated with wartime.

New practices were developed for manicure and pedicure in the late fifties when Max Factor introduced a range of nail enamels. At first the pale look was the fashion but by 1960 coral overtook and set the trend for colourful nails. During this time false nails make their debut and like false eyelashes got longer and longer.

A decade later acrylic nails were introduced and nail sculpting became the happening skill. The square nail became vogue. And it was reported some women grew their own nails long and sold them at $10 per inch to women who wanted a more realistic look to their false nails.

By the 1980's nails were made from fiberglass and were often tipped in gold to look chic. False nails were now available with adhesive tabs for ease in application and removal. Wu-Tang Clan the rap, hip hop outfit was quick to see the commercial opportunity and incorporated into their lyrics reference to their painted nails. The group’s management set up a company (Wu Tang Nails) and released a new line in nail paints through Wu Nails.

In their New York salon you could choose from over a hundred colours as well as have the band's logo and members faces embossed on your own nails. According to their management, the Wu Tang Clan all have their nails varnished but prefer clear polish, top and tail.

(Video Courtesy: WuTangClanVEVO Youtube Channel)

(Video Courtesy: HowcastCareStyle Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 21/06/2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Perfect shoe fit: Curiouser and curiouser !

According to a large survey of women's feet in California, most wear shoes too small for their feet, have discomfort and deformity, and have increased in shoe size from the age of 20 onwards. Ladies without symptoms were also found to wear shoes too small for their feet but to a lesser degree. The correlation between poorly fitting shoes and foot deformity is considered by many experts, as direct. In this study researchers measured the forefoot and heel widths and found as the forefoot increased in width, so did the heel. When foot length increased during standing, the width of forefoot increased to a greater extent than heel width. A person with a broad forefoot needs to shop around to get a shoe that will accommodate both wide forefoot and narrow heel fittings. Traditionally only quality shoes made from combination lasts will provide this type of fit, and of course because these are not mass produced, the shoes are costlier. Many imported shoes provide excellent width at the forefoot but have insufficient breadth at the heel. Furthermore, as shoe length increases, manufacturers typically enlarge all key internal dimensions in fixed proportions (a process called “scaling “). These in combination with the preference for court type style means the footwear available to most women, at a price they can afford, are inadequate to fit their feet.

In the thousands of years’ humanity has worn shoes, we still have only eight basic designs with the rest variations on the theme. Shoes appear to have been designed for men but at times when the foot and shoe were sexualised, the female style was a smaller replica of male footwear. Could this be men's ultimate control over woman kind, with the added insult of ensuring injury and therefore dependence. Let’s take this argument a little further and ask ourselves sociologically why most orthopaedic surgeons (bearing in mind the argument foot operations are in the main designed to get women back in women's shoes) are men; and podiatrists, there to empower females often with information they do not wish to comply with, are women.

“Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I'm opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!' (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off). `Oh, my poor little feet, I wonder who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears? I'm sure I shan't be able! I shall be a great deal too far off to trouble myself about you: you must manage the best way you can; - but I must be kind to them,' thought Alice, `or perhaps they won't walk the way I want to go! Let me see: I'll give them a new pair of boots every Christmas.'

And she went on planning to herself how she would manage it. `They must go by the carrier,' she thought; ` and how funny it'll seem, sending presents to one's own feet! And how odd the directions will look!

Alice's Right Foot, Esq.
Near the Fender,
(with Alice's love).

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 2
Lewis Carol

Oh dear, what nonsense I'm talking! Or am I?

When buying dress shoes always try to get the proper length (this is referred to as the heel to ball measurement), suitable width at the forefoot and adequate room in the toe box. There should be a snug grip of the counter about the heel, if the foot is to be supported within the shoe. Lacing and strap shoes are preferred with a Cuban heel. Most people have one foot longer than the other so always accommodate the longer foot. Shoe fitters are experts in this area, but if you cannot afford to spend the money trace an outline of your feet onto paper, cut them out, and take them with you to the shop. Slip them into the shoes of your choice if the paper shape fits without crumpling, then the length and breadth should be adequate. Remember there is no substitute for trying the shoes. Never tell the assistant what size you are always get them to measure your feet. The reason for this is shoe sizes vary from shop to shop. At all costs avoid, taking the shoes if you feel you have to break them in. If the proper fit is not available, frustrating as it may be, it is better to continue your search than to buy inadequately fitting shoes which may result in painful foot deformities.

Interesting link
The Literature Network

Reviewed 20/06/2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Must-Know Tips to Avoid a "Flip-Flop Fiasco"

(Video Courtesy: TheAPMA Youtube Channel)

Magical Shoes: A brief history

Shoes are the stuff legends are made from. They feature in sacred scriptures and secular mythologies and from antiquity shoes have also been a central component of fairy tales and folk stories. Cinderella is likely to be the most well-known. According to folk historians, Iona and Peter Opie, there are at least 700 versions of the story, worldwide. One can be traced to ancient Greece whilst others are known in China (9thc), where the Cinderella was known as Yeah Shen. In Korea, she is Kongjee and in Vietnam, Tam. The best known version comes from France and was written by Charles Perrault, published in 1697 in his Tales of Mother Goose.

In the original version the slippers were made from fur, in the most famous version from Walt Disney, the heroine wears glass slippers. No one is sure why this was the case but a strong argument was a mistranslation took place. The French noun "vait" means a white fur, and " verre" is the French word for glass.

Boots were important in Perrault's tales not only in the story of Puss in Boots but also in the lesser known Hop o'my thumb. The former may refer to the common habit for poorer people to bequeath expensive footwear. The other belief that shoes and boots could carry within them the persona of the original owner was just too alluring for the story teller not to grab hold of. In Hop o’my thumb, the hero steals the ogre's boots and takes with them, his strength. The idea that footwear can change an individual is a common theme. The moral many fairy tales stress is “Clothes maketh the man.” Once divested of the symbols of power, individuals no longer function.

The idea clothes were linked to status (power) was recognised by the Greeks who legislated for what could be worn by individuals lest they rise above their station. Women for example were allowed to wear three garments only and this is thought to be one reason why Greek women went barefoot. In Shakespeare’s King Lear: II, ii, reference is made to “a tailor make a man?” Fear of ’upward mobility’ in the Middle Ages again called into play sumptuary laws to prevent the rising middle classes from appearing outwardly more affluent that their position in society permitted. To the human brain perception is more important than reality and clothing provides a quick means of "sizing someone up" without having to engage them in direct conflict. In that sense clothing aka shoes, function as "displaying" behaviour.”

Fabulous dancing shoes were also a common theme in many fairy tales. Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Red Shoes' is a tale of vanity punished. The heroine falls in love with her shoes till eventually they take over her whole life and near end it prematurely. Eventually she has to cut off her feet to save her from death by dancing. The moral to this tale was not to become too taken with self-image. Death by dancing was not uncommon in the Middle Ages and frenzied physical movements (chorea) were often the cause of terrible physical exhaustion with tragic circumstances.

In the 13th century a group of 200 people in Germany were dancing so spiritedly on the bridge over the Mass River that it collapsed, killing many participants. The injured survivors were treated in a nearby chapel dedicated to St. Vitus. It is recorded many made miraculously recoveries. Involuntary movements became known as the dancing disease or Saint Vitus' chorea. (choros is the Greek word for dance). A chorea is an abnormal involuntary movement that occurs without purpose. Saint Vitus' dance later became a term synonymous with Sydenham's chorea, a childhood condition associated with rheumatic fever.

Around about the same time in Italy there were reports of mass hysteria dancing with many deaths. These strange phenomena persisted on a widespread scale in southern Europe for 400 years, reaching a peak in the seventeenth century, after which it virtually disappeared. It is now thought the disorder was not hysteria but an abnormal neurological reaction to tarantula spider bites. Researchers think music and dancing were the only effective remedies available and people were known to have died within a very short time of an attack because music was not available. Tarantism was mainly confined to southern Italy, and the term Tarantella became common among musicians. One theory is the Tarantella was the first example of music therapy.

When in the 14th century plague was rife and no cure was available, Christians and pagans danced to seek protection from the illness. These dances had their origins on religious fervour, pagan tradition or superstition and may have led to epidemics of mass hysteria. According to legend, the Dancing Procession of Metternich (Luxemburg) originated in the late eighth century after people with tremor and paralysis were miraculously healed at the grave of the missionary Willibrord. News of the miracles spread and people began to dance at Willibrord's grave seeking protection and cures from neurological disorders. With music and dancing so closely linked to disease and cure then shoe makers took on an important role in society.

In 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' a 19th century tale written by the Brothers Grimm, a shoe maker prominently features and in 'Elves and the Shoemaker', the shoemaker and his wife meet with the help from the little people. Elves and goblins as shoe makers demonstrated Puckarian characteristics which may have reflected a quite distrust of the trade. When shoe makers were good they were good, but when they were bad, that was uncomfortable. Shoemakers were articulate and capable of intelligent opposition to social injustice and in Roman times, many of the early converts to Christianity became clandestine sandal makers. In the Middle Ages they were also thought to disguise the evil foot by supporting the flat arch which was thought to be a sign of Satan. So as a well-known trade, shoemakers provided an attractive occupation for story tellers to include into folk lore and fairy tales.

Shoes could also have a life of their own and in the well know Asian folk tale, Abu Qasim a miser, merchant is haunted with is tattered magical shoes which got him into all kinds of trouble. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wears ruby red shoes (studded with diamonds) for good luck and more recently comic hero “Roy of the Rovers” has magical soccer boots. All in all, shoes matter to human beings whether they are lucky or unlucky, comfortable or uncomfortable.

McDowell C 1989 Shoes: Fashion and fantasy Thames and Hudson
Rogers J 1985 The dictionary of cliches NY: Balantine Books.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Instant shoes: Things can only get more automated

Historically mass production of footwear has always been labor intensive and less than environmentally friendly . Automated technology may help and whilst the technology is not quite advanced enough yet to be fully automated,early signs are it is getting there. The use of robotics in shoe manufacture is beginning to shape the footwear industry’s growth by pushing boundaries, like same day manufacture and production. The Keen Uneekbot is a miniature manufacturing marvel that assembles shoes in six minutes. Colours can be selected from menus.

(Video Courtesy: Keen Youtube Channel)

In 2005, Keen Footwear introduced the Uneek sandal. The entire shoe was held together by a single cord that was weaven through both the sole and a lightweight upper.

The next stage was to develop a robot capable of building custom versions of the sandal, anytime or anywhere. In conjunction with automation specialists, the House of Design , they came up with “the world’s smallest shoe factory.” The system consists of two robotic arms, several custom fixtures, and a tablet which serves as the robot’s controller, allowing users to start and stop the shoe-making process or input important variables.

When activated, the two arms work together to create a custom pair of Uneek sandals, automatically selecting the proper coloured cord before seamlessly weaving it through the shoe’s other components. In fact, on its fastest setting, the robot completes its task in just six minutes, which is roughly half the time it takes someone to accomplish the same work by hand. The shoe is then handed off to an actual human, who checks the Uneekbot’s work for quality control and finishes the last few steps of its construction. The sole needs to be finished by hand. and bungee material is used to thread through the shoe loops. Bungee material is used to make it tight, and then more is added to extend room around the insole so the foot can fit.

Designers were determined to reduce the carbon footprint in shoe manufacture and the Uneekbot accomplishes this in no short measure by eliminating excess waste and dramatically reducing the time required to create a single shoe. Making shoes there and then also eliminates fossil fuel emissions (and costs) associated with shipping footwear to the consumer.

Currently to promote and educate budding designers on innovation and creativity, the little robot is on a North American tour.